Always be prepared

Emergencies happen without warning and offer little if any time for clear thinking and swift reactions. Flash floods, home fires, even the collapse of a major highway bridge have all made headlines this summer. But when the emergency touches your family’s life, will you know what to do?

That is the question behind a new event being held 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 15 and 16 at Cantigny Park in Wheaton.

“Emergencies come in all shapes and sizes,” says Don Cook, senior vice president for philanthropy of the McCormick Tribune Foundation, which is sponsoring the event."The biggest thing is to get parents to be thinking about this issue and their children’s’ needs.”

The event features more than a dozen exhibitors. The free materials and presentations will help parents design an emergency plan; determine the necessary safety items for home or for emergencies that require evacuation and develop communication strategies for family members, schools and caregivers during an emergency.

Exhibitors include Central DuPage Hospital, Homeland Security Office of DuPage County and Citizen Core, Northern Illinois Food Bank, Salvation Army and Walgreens. The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will serve as hosts. Every family attending will receive an emergency"starter” kit.

The Red Cross will be collecting blood donations and conducting training sessions. The Winfield Fire Department will display a 1920s emergency vehicle and Revolutionary War re-enactors will demonstrate the differences between preparedness today and in the past.

“Everyone needs to have some level of preparedness,” Cook says."People need to be empowered, have a kit and have a plan to take care of your family.”

For information or a complete schedule of events visit the McCormick Tribune Foundation Web site www.mccormicktribune.org.

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